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How many companies in the UK are blogging? Not many, it seems, according to a list compiled by Suw Charman . Not many at all. The list isn’t fully comprehensive, but it highlights the dearth of business blogs in the UK, compared to US.
So why is it that UK and European marketers / business folk are ignoring blogs? I reckon it comes down to one of the following reasons…
1 - You don’t understand why you’d want a business blog. Neither does your CEO.
There are all kinds of reasons why you should consider a blog. Do you and your CEO understand the importance of Google on your business? Newsflash: Blogging = SEO. Let your CEO know…
2 - You are the CEO. And you’re not going to allow your minions to blog.
Why not? What are you afraid of? Are your employees so wild that you can’t control what they’ll say? Are they so stupid that they have nothing of interest to say?
Maybe the problem starts with you, Mr Big. You need a corporate blogging policy. There should be limits, of course, but why force employees to blog elsewhere, or not at all? You don’t have a blogging policy since you don’t have a blog, but that’s no reason not to create one.
You’ve been listening to your £5k-a-month PR agency for too long, haven’t you?
3 - You think it is too risky to allow your colleagues to write blog posts.
Maybe it is. But it probably isn’t, with appropriate guidance and a little prior training in the arts of SEO and copywriting.
You set the guidelines, the subject matter, the overall content framework. They will abide by those rules, because that’s what employees are generally good at (the ones who aren’t good at obeying rules tend to become ex-employees rather quickly).
So here’s what you do. You set up some house style rules and moderate posts prior to approval, at least to begin with. Assign somebody to be Blog King, in charge of all content across the blog. Write a ‘how-to blog’ guide and distribute it to those employees / people you want to contribute. Soft launch the blog for a month before making it open to the public.
If you talk about your company news, rather than the subject area in which your company operates, then the best person to write about it is an employee who is closest to the action. Your PR agency is not the best place to look at for this sort of thing.
However, if you are addressing the overall subject matter of your industry / product set, then that’s different… you could consider recruiting a part-time writer to help with content creation.
4 - Your PR agency thinks blogging is a bad move.
Ok, first you need to book a lunch appointment. Then, you can play a game with them. Ask them to explain how Google works. Ask them about RSS. Ask them about anchor text. Ask them to give you some tips on online copywriting. Ask them why blogging would be a bad move, with all the above in mind…
The fact is that most PR agencies are not even vaguely qualified to advise you on blogging, or even about online PR. You might realise this over a long lunch.
So long as the appropriate rules for contributing employees are in place then you shouldn’t worry too much about ‘a single touchpoint for PR activity’, whatever that means.
5 - You mentioned something to the techies. It is in their development schedule.
Dammit, that’s not good enough. Is the dog wagging the tail here? Have you determined how the blog is going to work, or are you leaving this up to them?
Ask them some questions, just like you did with your PR agency. When will it launch? What platform will they use? What are the key technical considerations? If you get blank or vague answers then you’d better grasp that tech bull by its horns…
When it comes to matters internet, savvy marketers and business folk should call the shots, not the techies.
6 - You haven’t figured out who will contribute to the blog, or what you will write about.
This is understandable. You don’t want to spend four hours per day servicing the blog, adding new content, replying to comments. You need somebody else to share the workload, but you’re not sure who to ask.
Have you thought about outsourcing content? Blogging is an investment into PR and SEO. It builds reach and heightens visibility. It solidifies a community, helps you get closer to your customers. It gives you a voice.
You might spend tens of thousands of pounds a month on SEO and PR and TV advertising, so why not consider repurposing some of that investment into your blog?
Remember that not all corporate blog content needs to be about the business. Don't get stuck in the we-are-not-interesting-enough trap.
7 - You can’t see any benefits whatsoever. It would be a waste of time.
There are always exceptions. Blogging might not be perfect for every company. But unless you can outline the key benefits to blogging then this is a lame excuse…
8 - You don’t see any return on investment. It would be a loss leader. We don’t do loss leaders.
How do you measure ROI from blogging? That’s the question. The answer, which is straightforward, lies in a few more questions.
How do you measure ROI from search engine optimisation (SEO)? And how much are you spending on SEO? How do you measure the value of your TV ads, or your offline PR? These are often somewhat intangible. Extrapolation and assumption is the name of the game. If you don’t accurately measure ROI on your TV advertising and PR activities, then why are you so bothered about ROI from blogging?
I think corporate blogging should start with a keyword strategy, just like SEO. Blogs should become a very useful part of your SEO strategy. Then there’s the PR value, with other bloggers writing about and linking to your blog posts.
On top of all that, there’s the ability to take part in conversations with your customers. Just think about the insights these conversations give you, into your website, your products, your TV ad campaign, your customer services, your packaging, your pricing… all this feedback is highly valuable, and with a blog you can avoid paying a research company to unearth customer feedback…
9 - You have no clue about how to set up a blog.
Blogs are easy to set up. You can host them yourself (eg Wordpress, MovableType), or opt for a hosted blog (eg Typepad, Blogger). Your techies will be able to help you figure out what’s best for your organisation. It ain’t rocket science.
10 - You think blogging is all hype / a passing fad / for kids.
Sure it is, whatever you say…
11 - You are happy to ignore blog activity in the US. The US is a totally different environment for this sort of thing.
Ignore it at your peril. The US is a different marketplace to Europe, or the rest of the world, but it isn’t all that different. But hey, it isn’t about marketplaces. If it is about anything, blogging is about increasing search engine visibility. That’s the number one reason – in my book – for blogging. Get with the action! Get visible!
12 - You think blogging isn’t right for your business.
You might be right. But at least be aware of the benefits of blogging before you make this call. Remember that you do not have to talk exclusively about your business on your blog, nor give away any trade secrets. Nobody cares that you got a new printer for your office, and that it makes a whirring noise that is annoying everybody. They do care about what you have to say about subjects relevant to your business, your products, your policies...